Annual Well-to-Wheel Emissions By State Shows Growing Strength Of EV Usage

DEC 3 2016 BY MARK KANE 63

All-electric vehicles don’t emit while driving, but the electricity needed to charge EV batteries do come from power plants. Those power plants in many cases, burn some kind of fuel to produce electricity; however some renewable energy sources don’t take advantage of finite fuels, and thus don’t emit at all.



The Alternative Fuels Data Center has estimated the indirect annual carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions of a typical EV, using data for 2015.

As it turns out, the well-to-wheel emissions of all-electric vehicles are lower than gasoline vehicles on average in all states:

  • gasoline vehicle average: 11,435 pounds of CO2 equivalent
  • EV National Average: 4,815 pounds of CO2 equivalent

That said, there is still a huge disproportion of CO2 emission between the states, depending on renewable energy source usage. Vermont for example is almost emission free, while on the other hand coal powered West Virginia stands at 9,451 pounds of CO2 equivalent.

“EVs charging in Vermont are estimated to produce the fewest emissions – oil and gas make up only 1.2% of the electricity sources in the state while cleaner sources such as nuclear, hydro, biomass, wind, and solar make up the rest. West Virginia’s electricity production is 95.7% from coal, making it the state with the most well-to-wheel CO2-equivalent emissions. The national average is 4,815 pounds of CO2-equivalent emissions for a typical EV per year as compared to the average gasoline-powered car which produces 11,435 pounds of CO2-equivalent emissions annually.”

The most important thing is that the switch is on to plug-in vehicles, and at the same time, every year’s electricity production becomes a little greener, so every EV sold will help the environment a little more every day.

Well-to-Wheel Emissions from a Typical EV by State, 2015

StateAnnual Emissions
per Vehicle
(Pounds of CO2 Equivalent)
New Hampshire1,886
South Dakota1,941
New York2,112
New Jersey2,529
South Carolina3,090
Rhode Island4,122
North Carolina4,395
District of Columbia4,540
New Mexico7,446
North Dakota7,470
West Virginia9,451
EV National Average4,815
For Comparison Purposes:
Gasoline Vehicle Average11,435


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63 Comments on "Annual Well-to-Wheel Emissions By State Shows Growing Strength Of EV Usage"

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Informative post Mr. Kane. When making the Well-to-Wheel emissions comparison we need at least a proper estimate of the electricity currently being produced by renewables.

You don’t need to know how much is produced by renewables to calculate CO2 impact.

You only need to know how much carbon is released per kWh generated. Right?

And how much electricity is used by gas refining:

I don’t really understand your question, Nick. It’s only burning fossil fuels that releases carbon. So the amount of CO2 per kWh depends on the generating source mix.

Somebody is in the business of managing those grids. Hence exact mix is know to that somebody. Some of those somebodies even publish that that on their websites (and advertise their renewables in general).

It would be interesting to compare the USA States to a country like Norway or New Zealand.
It is also interesting that they class Nuclear Power as a clean & renewable energy.

New Zealand…when are you going to do some climate work and get rid of those fossil fuels you use for electricity generation? When are you going to stop the fossil fuel extraction? How about the transport sector? Do you even have a plan?
You need to start doing your part too, not only ride on old hydro power which gave you clean power for “free” without effort.

Nowhere did it say renewable energy. But there is no doubt that nuclear is a clean energy, and among the cleanest of them all.

New Zealand runs 90% renewables since Feb 2016.

Mikael- which clean green country do you live in?

Good, something is happening. But the 90% 2025 goal seems very weak. No plan for fossil free electricity generation?

No plans for transportation? How is the situation on heating? What is the plan for fossil fuel extraction?

You still have ~60% of all energy coming from fossil fuels. That is a lot.

I live in Sweden, one of many countries that still has a long way to go and a lot of hard work still to be done.

I nuclear is classified as “low carbon” which is not exactly the same as “clean and renewable”. There’s a real tension in the green energy world these days with some very reputable scientists claiming that climate change temperature rise will be far worse than any imaginable “nuclear winter” scenario.

Well, after Iraq wars one big scary scenario for “Nuclear Winter” was much weakened.

Everybody feared that if enough nukes go out, fires and explosions themselves will put enough fine grain debris into atmosphere that it will trigger global cooling period.

As for the effect of the nuking, it would simply put our society a century or two back. Too much knowledge out there to really bring us back more then that.
People would simply know that that knowledge and expertise is such a great competitive advantage that we would bootstrap back again relatively quickly.

Global warming? We are talking about whole ecosystems dying (droughts, salt water flooding, permanent flooding, etc.), and billions of people who either have to move from endangered places, or have to accommodate emigrants while food situation is strained even for them.

Of course that wont happen this year, or this decade (though droughts and salt water floodings where there where non or no of such severe scale do happen even now)

* Sorry was not so precise about Iraq wars and “Nuclear Winter” scenarios.

You see during Iraq wars oil fields where put to fire… it produced huge quantities of those fine grain particles. So from those wars we have enough data to estimate what would happen if nukes would go off globally in major cities.

Steve said:

“I nuclear is classified as “low carbon” which is not exactly the same as “clean and renewable”.”

Nuclear power certainly is relatively clean as compared to almost all other sources of electricity. In fact, by some analyses it’s even cleaner than hydroelectric power, if you include the environmental cost of building large dams.

But it’s not rational to claim it’s “renewable”. The various types of fuel for nuclear power plants, whether it’s uranium or plutonium or — for the new generation — thorium, certainly are not renewable resources.

It’s really too bad that popular culture has painted nuclear power as something to be greatly feared. Of course, underlying that is the quite rational fear of nuclear weapons, but despite doomsday scenarios such as “The China Syndrome”, nuclear power actually poses far less danger to public health than coal-fired power plants. Other falsehoods regarding nuclear power include the myth that the waste can’t be stored safely, despite the fact that France already does that routinely.

Sadly, humans are not rational animals. If they were, then decades ago we would have replaced every single coal-fired power plant with a much safer and very much cleaner nuclear power plant.

Nuclear power is not renewable, but it is sustainable — we can extract the required amount of uranium or plutonium from seawater indefinitely.

Pushi: “France stores Nuclear Waste Safely”.

oh I see thats a different statement than the one you made last week:

“France Processes all its Nuclear Waste”.

Which of course, as usual, you get all the pertainent facts wrong – since there is no real conversion of Nuclear Waste to something safer anywhere, unless that Fusion Experiment in France actually does eventually go somewhere, or, if you mean the Breeder reactors pilot project in Russia which, to their credit, are greatly decreasing the amount of NEW URANIUM which must be used, as their fuel source is existing ‘spent fuel’.

As far as not storing Nukes safely, you mean to imply the USA does not?

Pushi as a “Rational Animal”, hummmm, yeah I think that is more true than you actually meant it be. Please move to within 2 miles of a Nuclear Plant, – to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. I used to live 2 miles from my favorite coal plant, until they shut it down a year ago.

M Hovs said: “When making the Well-to-Wheel emissions comparison we need at least a proper estimate of the electricity currently being produced by renewables.” This map does NOT give you a proper estimate for making comparisons. Apparently, this map shows only the CO2 emissions of electricity generated in each state and not the CO2 emissions of the electric grid used by that state. Since states don’t have individual electrical grids that end at their state borders, you have to look at the CO2 emissions of the grid or grids within which a particular state is located. For instance, the NYC grid had dedicated transmission lines that brings in hydro-electricity from Quebec, and also other interconnects to import/export electricity to neighboring grids. This map does not account for this. It’s a map of CO2 from electricity generation in each state, and not a map of CO2 from electricity consumed in each state. Theoretically, a state can have no electric generating capacity in the state and import 100% of its electricity from neighboring states, giving it “zero” CO2 emissions. The Union of Concerned Scientists has a map comparing the Well-to-Wheels CO2 emission of the various electric grids in the US. This map… Read more »

I just got my new rates in the mail, went from 5.5cents to 4.95cents! Renewable energy generated and around 50cents per 30miles is OK by me. *looks at the gas stations sells $2.40 per gallon*

5 cents?? is that the bottom line payment to your utility divided by kwh?? I can’t believe it.

4.9 Per kWh yup! The cost has gone down three years in a row now, 6->5.5->4.9… Its really the only reason I don’t have solar panels, the ROI is so high its not worth it.

Yeah. NG has gone down for 3 years running. Ample supple, mild winters, soft demand.
We went down from 10ct-9ct-8.5ct.

OK thx,
Washington hydro?

My bottom line to APS in AZ if 16 cents/kwh. but I only buy around half my total house usage from APS. The rest is off solar panels cost at 7 cents/kwh if amortized over the life of the panels. Hopefully I live long enough to see the end of the amortization:)

Shocking enough it’s Ohio! I had the 100% green energy option first last year and jumped on it. Next year about 300MW in wind should be coming online for more customers as well!

Whoa! Where is that? I’m near the cusp of $0.40/kWh in San Diego. Overall is not high enough to justify solar, but damn annoying that I could pay more than Ford F150 gas truck by charging EV few times a year.

Where are you? Perhaps I can run an extension cord from your house to mine.

…don’t take advantage vrs. doesn’t, the object is plural, not singular.

We should all be speaking Klingon…

The grey tinting on the map has numerous errors. Idaho is shown as darker than California even though it has less than half the CO2e, Iowa is lighter than South Dakota even though it has almost 3x the emissions, Indiana is lighter than Illinois despite having over 2x the emissions, etc.

It’s correct on the source website though. Weird.

I think the question is:

Do the states have the right to determine their own CO2 emissions?

As usual in these studies, the average CO2 intensity is used instead of what one should really use – the marginal emission intensity during time of charging. You can read more about this at

For example, in Georgia, the power is 2x dirtier at 2am than at 9pm. In California, the reverse is true (although the difference is more like 20-30%).

that said, this does not change the main point of the article that an average new EV is now cleaner than the *average* vehicle on the road. Just that you can make your EV much cleaner by charging at the right time.

I have to quibble with this wording: “… some renewable energy sources don’t take advantage of finite fuels, and thus don’t emit at all.” Technically, emissions are a separate issue from renewability. CO2 release comes from burning fossil fuels, specifically — releasing carbon that’s been trapped for millions of years back into the atmosphere. That fuel source also happens to be finite in supply, but that’s not why it produces emissions. You can, for example, generate electricity from fission — a finite fuel source, but one without CO2 emissions.

You can also, in principle, burn carbon-based fuel without generating net emissions, as long as that fuel is from non-fossil sources (i.e. biofuel). It’s only the release of long-stored carbon that’s the issue.

Also technically, even solar and wind power will run out one day, as the Sun consumes its own finite fuel source. 🙂

EV fans should grow up intellectually and realize that CO2 is not the boogeyman.
The planet has been warming for 150 years or so.
There is no scientific proof of any kind that warming is harmful – rather otherwise.
There is no scientific proof of nay kind that increasing CO2 causes warming – rather otherwise.
There is no scientific proof of any kind that increasing CO2 is harmful – rather otherwise.
As an EV fan, one may be happy that there is a developing alternative to gas and diesel. Economically that is a beneficial fact.

I’m only irritated that I started to read your troll crap.

Finally, an anonymous Internet guy willing to stand up to 98% of the world’s scientists!

Or maybe not anonymous at all. Steve Bannon, is that you?

> EV fans should grow up intellectually and realize that CO2 is not the boogeyman.

That’s rich… coming from the anti-science/anti-fact viewpoint?

It is no use Mr. Marshall – especially with anyone under 35 years old – its been drummed into their heads since they were little kids. Even people who I consider intelligent believe this stuff. You can mention that ‘unreliable sources’ such as the LEAD AUTHOR of the International Panel on Climate Change (Christy) has said ‘water is the most important Greenhouse Gas’, or that plenty of CO2 is released during earthquakes, or the 85% of CO2 released by erupting volcanos occur under the world’s oceans, and while their heating may be factored in, the CO2 released is not. Meanwhile we have Gov Moonbeam declaring that 14.65% of ‘greenhouse gasses’ are coming from California’s farms and therefore Methane Sequestration will be mandatory for farm animals. If you can’t afford the equipment, I’d guess the farms will walk across the state line – those that can, that is. Meanwhile, although modern Jet Engines on commercial planes have not released a visible condensation trail in many decades, the Barium, Strontium, and Aluminum released annually by Drones flying overhead (easily, plainly visible from my back yard) – release 35,000 tons of the stuff worldwide/annum – and people and livestock keep getting sicker all… Read more »

Besides the above ‘ignored’ real problem of REAL air polution, there is the either ‘minor’ issue of the poisoning of the northern Pacific Ocean, which is just ‘explained away’ as were all the sickness and death in Belarus after Chernobyl in 1986.

The uncaptioned picture is the SuperSonic (i.e. ‘prompt criticality’) DETONATION of Daiichi Unit #3, unlike the Hydrogen Deflagrations (SubSonic) of Units #1,#2, and #4.


CO2 have a footprint (mix of isotopes), so one can say what CO2 source it come from.

Man made footprint is on the increase. Now go preach Your beliefs to Miami folks. See what they have to say about Your “harmlessness”.

I’m not talking about radioactive isotopes of carbon dioxide.

I’m merely stating almost everyone here worries about (to me,) a non-existent problem, whereas plainly visible problems affecting real people are ignored.

I already addressed the supposed sea-level trouble. But there’s plenty of other complications on that subject that I’m not going to address on a car blog.

Just checked Accuweather: They say the current temp is -35, and it will be -37 later on. Damn that is cold. I didn’t think any civilized place on earth could get that cold ever.

I’m a bit confused as to all this worrisome ‘ice melting’ if the temp needs to be 69 degrees HOTTER to do that. And of course, during those months that the seasonal arctic ice melt occurs – no one mentions the added ice extent at antartica.

And how does your weather myopia apply to the rest of the world? So it happens to be really cold right now in Alaska (a place I would hardly call “civilized”) so that means it cannot be hot anywhere else? That’s silly. Meanwhile, 2016 is on track to be the hottest year on record, a trend in recent years.

“Weather Myopia”? “Hardly call Alaska civilized”.

What an arrogant, pompous statement toward the people of Fairbanks.

Its not even Winter yet..

You guys are ALWAYS citing Arctic Melting to the exclusion of everything else. (And for proof you show the video of a South American Iceburg seasonally melting as proof as ‘Arctic Global Warming’). SO so much for my ‘weather myopia’. Its you guys who told me it was so hot up there.

Just checked world weather and today it is 112.1F at Winton Airport in Australia. Damn, that’s hot. I didn’t think any civilized place on earth could get that hot, ever. Oh wait, I’ve been in AZ at 126F

What’s the point? It’s always hot somewhere and always cold somewhere. Individual day temperatures mean nothing. But long term temperature trends and global temperature trends tell a story for those willing to listen.

“The planet has been warming for 150 years or so.”
Which matches the industrial age and the rise in human-caused greenhouse gases, and the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels! Thanks for providing such strong evidence for anthropogenic global warming.

“There is no scientific proof of any kind that warming is harmful – rather otherwise.”
Depends on what level of proof you demand. Increased storms, increased desertification, loss of biodiversity, loss of driving water glaciers melt, and eventually sea level rises that put coastal areas and entire countries underwater are only predictions from scientists… Is “The future isn’t here yet, so let’s just see what happens” really the best strategy?

“There is no scientific proof of nay kind that increasing CO2 causes warming – rather otherwise.”
That’s a complete lie. The greenhouse effect is well understood and irrefutable:CO2 and other greenhouse gases trap heat. The only question is: in the extremely complicated interactions of global climate, what will the future warming be?

Shawn Marshall falsely stated:

“There is no scientific proof of any kind that increasing CO2 is harmful – rather otherwise.”

I’m sure this “fact” will come as a great surprise to everyone who is scientifically literate and understands that the massive increase of atmospheric CO2 is causing acid rains which are devastating oceanic life, including (as just one example) massive die-offs of coral reefs worldwide.

Please peddle your pro-pollution disinformation campaign elsewhere. It’s not welcome here.

Ha! More arrogant Clap-Trap.
Uh,,, Chief!!! I think you mean SO2.

I know all those confusing alphabet letters get so complicated they’re easily confused.

IF anthropogenic global warming is real (I am a skeptic), the “danger” would be flooding of low-lying areas from sea level rise. Even as a skeptic, I sold my home (elevation 11′ above mean sea level) in Florida and moved to West Virginia where someday I will again live near the coastline if I’m wrong.

If you’re wrong your children or grandchildren won’t get to inherent and enjoy your new property when they are too busy dealing with the collapse of the world economy and ensuing wars and conflicts due to mass migrations and famines of almost half of the world’s billions of people that currently live along the world’s coastlines and whose economies depend on the coasts as they are now.

But hey you won’t have to deal with it in your lifetime so have fun right!

Most of the time the ‘Sea Level Rise’ is a relative issue. In other words, there is NONE. The land is sinking. Fracking in the States currently is the main culprit, but too much well extraction in general is exacerbating the problem.

Or, in cities like New Orleans, the city has been sinking for 200 years. Not a new problem so there is no sense on blaming it on a ‘new – in vogue ‘problem’ ‘.

You may call yourself a ‘skeptic’, but I’m not skeptical at all – after I’ve researched an issue enough, any initial skepticism vanishes.

Wait, the land is sinking? Wahahahaha. Into what exactly? OMG, you are so effing stupid. LOL.

Newsflash: You’ve just proven yourself to be just another clown who cannot rationally discuss an issue without Cussing.

Time to go to your local college for a Consoling session, crying session, and rented Teddy Bears from the nearest Nursury School.

All the arrogant kids laughing on Comedy Central about Trump actually winning? There doesn’t seem to be much laughter now.

I don’t know if Trump is going to be any good, but at least he’s not a member of the Bush/Clinton Crime families. The criminal pot need a bit of stirring – and the real wake up has yet to happen, but apparently the Main Street Media is showing signs of desperation.

If there are big problems with Trump, we’ll have to deal with them later. Its an issue of proportion.

Iowa seems a little light on the heat map compared to the table shown below. Does this need corrected?

I think its a funny (Or NOT) that if you took the US map and compared the RED states (those who voted for the Trump Bump), they are the ones at the bottom of this list causing the most damage to the environment. There are exceptions buts it most all states that ding dong won. Amazing!!

Yeah, even in “BLUE” NY State, the vast majority of the state is actually “RED”, only the county I happen to live in, and the totally different downstate ’18 miles’ (where all the people live) is “BLUE”.


The people who grow your food.

Provide your energy.

Mine your resources.

And manufacture what is still made in this country – (in otherwords, the adults in the room) have spoken.

Even if Trump had lost, somehow I don’t think supporters would need ‘Consoling Sessions, Crying Sessions, or Teddy Bears’ at college campuses. Maybe therefore I should have capitalized ADULT.

Germany, circa 1940:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

* * * * *

United States, circa 2018:

First they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Muslim.

Then they came for the “Mexicans”, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not Hispanic.

Then they came for the Blacks, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not Black.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

(Credit where it’s due: The first section was written by Pastor Martin Niemöller)

* * * * *

The Nazis had the Brownshirts, and later the Waffen-SS, to round up people to be sent to concentration camps.

Trump will have his “deportation force”.

That’s just beyond stupidity.

Look at the harsh treatment Mexico gives any illegal aliens in their country, for starters.

If trump merely enforces Existing Immigration Law, only a clown would complain about that.

So, I fully expect pages more of diatribes and drivel from you.

The vast majority of LAND voted? No, people vote, and far more people live in those little blue spots than the “vast” swaths of red across the country. And the opinions of the “vast”, uneducated morass of people in America hardly concerns me. Maybe if you had a full brain between the lot of you, you wouldn’t have voted in a conman like Donald Trump.

Hey, I haven’t heard any Golden Nuggets of Brilliance out of you.

How’s that re-count going? Trump just won in Pennsylvania – and then a judge stopped the counting later anyway.

When you add the absentee military vote, its more than likely military men preferred Trump overall, and then with our current president encouraging illegal aliens to vote (saying they’ll never be prosecuted for doing so) – means if a REAL attempt was made to see how many disqualified voters actually did vote – we’d probably find that Trump actually won the popular vote as well.

George “Save the planet” Soros, must have stopped paying for protesters since there haven’t been many this week.

I’m sure a Great Brain like you didn’t know such a Great Environmentalist was now the largest owner of Coal.

I’ve seen surveys that show about 1/3 of EV owners have solar electric panels on their roof. I know several EV drivers in West Virginia that do just that. So for those folks, their EV emissions are quite of bit lower than shown in this article.


I have never seen any analysis which was even close to the truth on this issue, because they all ignore the significant percentage of PEV (Plug-in EV) owners who use rooftop solar power to charge (or offset the electricity used to charge) their PEV.

Many or most analyses also ignore the fact that the States with the highest percentage of PEV ownership — California, Oregon, and Washington — are among those with the lowest CO2 emissions per kWh.

Using averages is highly misleading in these comparisons.

Hummm, as an all-knowledgeable GURU on the electric automotive scene, and since you are So, so ‘concerned’ about the PLANET, how many solar panels have you installed on your house? Zero?

Surely you have some of those cheap sidewalk solar powered light sticks at least for $19.95.

Counting entire States as homogeneous emissions zones is kind of misleading. In Texas, for example, one can choose to purchase pure wind energy. Also, as someone else mentioned, grids don’t stop at State lines.